SHOW ME YOUR FAITH
James 2:14-26 August 9 2009
James directs Christians to govern and conduct themselves more especially by the law of Christ. So speak and so do as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty, v. 12. This will teach us, not only to be just and impartial, but very compassionate and merciful to the poor; and it will set us perfectly free from all sordid and undue regards to the rich. Observe here,
It concerns us therefore so to speak and act now as become those who must shortly be judged by this law of liberty; that is, that we come up to gospel terms, that we make conscience of gospel duties, that we be of a gospel temper, and that our conversation be a gospel conversation, because by this rule we must be judged. The consideration of our being judged by the gospel should engage us more especially to be merciful in our regards to the poor (v. 13): For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. Take notice here,
1.The necessity of good works to prove the sincerity of Faith.( James 2:14-19)
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 2:15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 2:16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.
In (James 2:14-20,24,26) “faith” is not used in the sense of genuine, saving faith. Rather, it is demonic (James 2:19), useless (James 2:20) and dead (James 2: 26). It is a mere intellectual acceptance of certain truths without trust in Christ as Savior. James is also not saying that a person is saved by works and not by genuine faith. Rather, he is saying, to use Martin Luther’s words, that a man is justified (declared righteous before God) by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Genuine faith will produce good deeds, but only faith in Christ saves. (For more information on justification Romans 3:24.)
(James 2:15-16) This illustration of false faith is parallel to the illustration of false love found in (1John 3:17). The latter passage calls for love in action; this one calls for faith in action. You have faith ; I have dees. The false claim is that there are “faith” Christians and “deeds” Christians, i.e., that faith and deeds can exist independently of each other. Show me faith without deeds . Irony; James denies the possibility of this. There is one God . A declaration of monotheism that reflects the well-known Jewish creed called in Hebrew the SHEMA, “Hear” (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29).
2.Which other wise will be of no more advantage than the Faith of devils . (James 2:20-26)
James 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 2:21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 2:22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Apart from its context, this verse might seem to contradict the Biblical teaching that people are saved by faith and not by good deeds (Romans 3:28; Gal 2:15-16). But James means only that righteous action is evidence of genuine faith —not that it saves, for the verse (Gen 15:6) that he cites (James 2:23) to substantiate his point says, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it [faith, not works] to him as righteousness.” Furthermore, Abraham’s act of faith recorded in (Gen 15:6) occurred before he offered up Isaac, which was only a proof of the genuineness of his faith. As Paul wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6). Faith that saves produces deeds. God’s friend . This designation ( 2 Ch 20:7) further describes Abraham’s relationship to God as one of complete acceptance. Not by faith alone . Not by an intellectual assent to certain truths (James 2:14-26). Rahab the prostitute . James does not approve Rahab’s occupation. He merely commends her for her faith ( Heb 11:31), which she demonstrated by helping the spies (Jos 2).
And now, upon the whole matter, the apostle draws this conclusion, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, v. 26. These words are read differently; some reading them, As the body without the breath is dead, so is faith without works: and then they show that works are the companions of faith, as breathing is of life. Others read them, As the body without the soul is dead, so faith without works is dead also: and then they show that as the body has no action, nor beauty, but becomes a loathsome carcass, when the soul is gone, so a bare profession without works is useless, yea, loathsome and offensive. Let us then take head of running into extremes in this case. For,
The best works, without faith, are dead; they want their root and principle. It is by faith that any thing we do is really good, as done with an eye to God, in obedience to him, and so as to aim principally at his acceptance.
The most plausible profession of faith, without works, is dead: as the root is dead when it produces nothing green, nothing of fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both. We must not think that either, without the other, will justify and save us. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it.